Posts

Showing posts from June, 2017

The shrinking caliphate

Foreign Policy:
The Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate is no more, according to an Iraqi military spokesman, and a new report on the group’s shrinking revenue suggests he might be right.

“Their fictitious state has fallen,” Brigadier General Yahya Rasool told state television.

The group’s apparent collapse is backed up a study released Thursday morning that found three years after Islamic State declared its caliphate on parts of Iraq and Syria, it has lost 80 percent of its revenue and roughly two thirds of its territory. The report, by IHS Markit, a London-based information and analytics group, found the Islamic State’s average monthly revenue has fallen dramatically from $81 million in the second quarter of 2015 to $16 million in the second quarter of 2017 — an 80 percent drop.

Revenue is down across all of the terror group’s income streams: taxation of the people under its control, confiscation of goods, oil smuggling and production, and trade in illegal antiquities. IHS foun…

CNN has more than one story to retract and explain

Mollie Hemingway:

CNN’s Latest Retraction Is Just The Tip Of The Fake News Iceberg

Taking responsibility for just one of the many flawed stories CNN has been pushing is nowhere near sufficient a response to the institutional problems plaguing the media outlet.

...
... The serious problems with CNN’s approach to the Russia-Trump collusion conspiracy are much deeper than just one story, go back many months, and involve several stories and larger themes that no one at CNN has bothered to sufficiently explain....
... This is a very long piece, but it adds context to the Russian conspiracy game played by the Democrats and their media cohorts.  Cataloging all the things the media got wrong on this story may become a book-length feature eventually.  It may be one of the shoddiest events in media history.  If these people had any shame they would slink away from this mess.  Instead, they double down on a bogus witch hunt.

California joins Illinois as a spendthrift state

Ian Tuttle:
California’s Medicaid-Spending Crisis

...
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times editorial board accused Republicans of planning to “slash” Medicaid and “devastate” Los Angeles County, where 40 percent of the population are Medicaid recipients. Their projection reflects a sentiment shared by many across the state. About 14 million Californians — more than one-third of the state — are Medi-Cal recipients (nearly 19 percent of the nationwide Medicaid population), and the nearly $100 billion program is two-thirds funded by the federal government. What will happen if California has to shoulder more, or most, of that burden?
...
California’s Medicaid program has, by a certain metric, been a success. That metric is health-insurance coverage. The Affordable Care Act offered generous financial help to states that expanded their Medicaid programs, and California was one of the most aggressive adopters. Since 2014, when the ACA went into full effect, California has added 5 million people …

Did Joe and Mika try to get Trump to react to them to increase viewers of their show?

Washington Post:
Mika Brzezinski expresses concern over what tweets reveal about Trump

Brzezinski and her MSNBC co-host, Joe Scarborough, had been scheduled to start a long-planned vacation after their show Thursday, but delayed it so they could address the president’s attack. I think they wanted Trump to react so people would pay attention to them.  They know Trump is a counterpuncher so they said things to provoke a response and they have to be delighted with the media and political reaction to his response.

These reactions are likely to have zero effect on Trump supporters.  The political and media dogs will bark, but the caravan will move on.  In fact, while some see this as a self-induced reaction, it has taken the media and Democrats off message in their attacks on the Trump agenda.  I don't know if that is what Trump planned, but that is the reality.

Meanwhile, their show may capture a few more liberal viewers today and then go back to being ignored.

Irresponsible Democrats in the legislature of Illinois put the whole state at risk

NY Times:
‘Everything’s in Danger’: Illinois Approaches 3rd Year Without Budget Many people who depend on state services — public university students, drug addicts, troubled teenagers, the elderly — have already felt the repercussions. This is happening because the Democrats made promises they cannot keep to public employee retirement plans that were already overly generous.  They put themselves in this pickle and the only solution they see to it is to increase their confiscatory tax rates that have already put the state in an economic death spiral as the rich they are soaking are leaving the state in droves.

Illinois is an example of the failure of liberalism and the blue model.  It is where the US would be if Democrats had their way with spending on vote buying schemes.  Instead of focusing on those responsible for the mess, the media is focused on what they perceive as a victim class, in hopes that someone will cave and continue the death spiral of higher taxes that kill economic a…

San Francisco's sanctuary city polices become even more insane

Washington Times:
A man from El Salvador in the U.S. illegally who sued San Francisco after police turned him over to immigration authorities in violation of the city’s sanctuary law is set to be awarded $190,000, his attorney said Thursday.

Pedro Figueroa-Zarceno, 33, reached the settlement agreement with the city attorney’s office, said Saira Hussain, a staff attorney at the Asian Law Caucus who represented Zarceno. The agreement must be approved by the Board of Supervisors.

“We have to insure that each and every local law enforcement official is following those sanctuary policies and we are seeing in Mr. Figueroa’s case that didn’t happen,” Hussain said.

Figueroa-Zarceno sued San Francisco in January for violating its sanctuary city law.
... I think this is a waste of public resources.  The fact that he felt he was tricked into going to the police is no excuse for his being in the country illegally.

Congress looks to thwart anti-energy left's litigation strategy for stopping drilling and mining

Fuel Fix:


When it comes to expanding U.S. oil and gas production, President Donald Trump has few greater hurdles than litigation from environmental groups that can tie up companies and federal agencies for years.

Now Republicans in Congress are examining ways by which to reduce the delays such litigation can bring to drilling and mining projects on federal lands.

"In reality a legal subindustry has thrived from endless environmental litigation," Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Louis., said at a hearing in the House Committee on Natural Resources this week. "Our legal system is an important avenue for citizens seeking redress of wrongs perpetuated by the federal government... however special interests repeatedly exploit our legal system to further their own agendas."

So far House Republicans have not introduced any legislation or made specific recommendations on how the Department of Interior might go about speeding up the legal process. But members of the House Subcommittee o…

ISIS escape routes from Raqqa are all blocked

BBC:
US-backed forces say they have fully encircled Islamic State fighters in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the capital of the group's self-proclaimed caliphate.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, say they have now sealed off escape routes to the south.

IS seized Raqqa in early 2014 and established its headquarters there.

The SDF have been gradually advancing on the city since November and launched an offensive to take it on 6 June.
The desperate fight for the IS 'capital'
Inside 'Islamic State': A Raqqa diary
Islamic State group: The full story
Why is there a war in Syria?

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group confirmed the last route out of the city had now been cut off.

Col Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led coalition against IS, said that the SDF now controlled "all high speed avenues of approach into Raqqa from the south".

He said that IS fighters "abandoned by their…

House passes bill cracking down on sanctuary cities and deportees who return

Washington Post:
House passes bills to crack down on ‘sanctuary cities’ and deported criminals who return to U.S.

The bills were heavily promoted by President Trump and other Republicans but face a major obstacle in the Senate, where Democrats have pledged to oppose them. These are bad issues for Democrats who are on the wrong side of the voters on both.  Polls show 90 percent of votes oppose sanctuary cities and there cannot be many who support allowing deported criminal aliens return to the US.

OK. Raise your hand if you favor allowing criminal aliens to escape deportation?  It may be a popular stand in San Francisco, but in the sane world, no one would support it.  I have yet to hear a rational argument is support of sanctuary cities.

Trump tax cut plan popular with voters, 61 percent favor his middle-class tax cuts

Gallop:
...
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Gallup tested several of candidate Trump's tax proposals.


He advocated eliminating most federal income tax deductions and loopholes for the very rich, and Gallup found 63% of American adults favoring this with just 17% opposed.His proposal to simplify the federal tax code -- reducing the current seven tax brackets to four -- was also popular, with 47% agreeing and only 12% disagreeing.Trump's plan to eliminate the estate tax paid when someone dies garnered considerably more agreement than disagreement from Americans, 54% to 19%. Notably, this is an issue that Congress and the wider public have considered in the recent past, and public sentiment on the issue today is in line with past Gallup polls on this issue, such as when it asked about keeping the estate tax from increasing in 2010.

More recently, in March 2017, Americans viewed President Trump's general plan to "significantly cut federal income taxes for the middle…

Marine Corps light weight artillery is having a heavy impact on ISIS

Tasks and Purpose:
...
At Fire Base Bell in Iraq, Marines with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit fired roughly 2,000 rounds in support of Iraqi and Kurdish fighters engaging ISIS militants in Mosul in May 2016, and soldiers with the Army’s 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment continued the mission after the MEU rotated home.

In Syria, Marines with the 11th MEU recently dropped 4,500 rounds on ISIS militants in support the local Syrian and Kurdish fighters on the march to take Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital, and now another artillery battery from a different MEU has taken over that mission.

RELATED: 7 BADASS PHOTOS OF MARINES SHELLING THE CRAP OUT OF ISIS IN SYRIA »

Run by a crew of seven or eight — and five if need be — the 155 mm BAE Systems-designed cannon boasts some impressive specs. With a range of 15 miles, the M777’z deadly reach can be enhanced with rocket-assisted shells, allowing it to reach out and destroy a target up to 18.6 miles away, according to P…

Truck driver explains what a disaster Democrats' Obamacare has been for him and his family

Matthew Garnett:
So often I hear the health-care crisis discussed in generalities and abstractions. “Premiums are skyrocketing.” “Deductibles are gargantuan.” “The co-pays are outrageous!”

While that’s all true, that sort of talk is largely meaningless to me, and probably you as well. I want to scream, “You have no idea!” So if you’ll indulge me, I’ll give you a concrete, albeit anecdotal, example of what “skyrocketing premiums,” “gargantuan deductibles,” and “outrageous co-pays” look like on the ground for a blue collar, middle-class truck driver.

I work for a really great trucking outfit. I love the job. They provide us with top-notch equipment and plenty of miles. (For those of you not familiar with truck driving, miles equal money.) However, if I elected to buy health insurance for my family of four through my company, I would take a salary cut to the tune of about $25,000 a year. That’s on top of my employer paying approximately one-fourth of the costs, about $6,000.
...
So if I …

Climate models suggests that CO2 is not the primary control knob of Earth's temperature

Washington Post:
Rick Perry touts carbon-cutting technology while simultaneously trying to cut its funding

Perry has made comments that he is not convinced carbon dioxide is the primary control knob in warming the atmosphere. One of the reasons that global warming projections have been so off is they use invalid assumptions.

That is always the reasons for the failure of all projections whether they be for financial purposes or predictions of future temperatures.  I think it is because they overstate the effects of CO2 on the climate.  That leads them to predict dire results that have not materialized.

While the climatistas try to explain away the effects of the sun on climate some argue that the global warming that is happening on Mars is proof that solar activity is probably more responsible for warming.

It is possible that warming, itself leads to more CO2 in the atmosphere.  That would account for the increases in CO2 in previous warm periods when no one was using fossil fuels.

Th…

There is a difference between disliking ill effects of liberalism and disliking government

E.J. Dionne:
Hating government doesn’t solve problems You can hate what liberalism has done to places like Detroit and Illinois and Democrats confuse that with hatred of government.  Liberalism is the problem and not the solution to what is wrong with government.  It is also what is wrong with much of today's media.  It has become agenda driven rather than fact based.

Turkey's attacks on Kurdish culture are making the case for Kurdish independence

Image
NY Times:
Amid Turkey’s Purge, a Renewed Attack on Kurdish Culture The authorities have fired people from jobs promoting Kurdish culture, removed statues of Kurdish heroes, shut Kurdish media and jailed pro-Kurdish journalists. Turkey's Erdogan is an Islamist despot who is carrying out his own version of ethnic cleansing of the culture of people native to the region.  He has become probably the lousiest ally within NATO and his racial hostility and animosity toward the Kurds are roiling the region along with the disruptions caused by ISIS and al Qaeda.  But to Erdogan, the Kurds are the real enemy.

Since it appears clear he will not be fair with the Kurds, it becomes more evident that their best hope is independence from this despotic regime.  The Kurds are far more deserving of their own state than the Palestinians.

This is another example of why the climate change crowd has lost credibility

Independent:
World has three years to save humanity from climate change, warn experts

Since the 1880s, the world’s temperature has risen by about 1C because of greenhouse gases resulting from human activity The climate change mafia has become like another "end of the world" cult.  They have been saying similar things for at least the last 30 years and none of their predictions have been realized.  If they were New York City would be underwater now.  As their hysteria increases their prediction become more dire and less believable.

In the Netherlands a debate on Islam's responsibility for terrorism

Image
This is the debate that the rest of Europe needs to be having as it deals with Islamic terrorism.  I think Wilders gets the best of the PM.  It has become a debate about "freedom of religion" for a group that does not think anyone else should have freedom of religion.

Democrats in Illinois are proving they are incompetent managers of government

Stephen Moore:
The media has hyper-obsessed over the Kansas tax hike this year and has sold this as a repudiation of "supply side economics." But the real story in the states has been the catastrophic effects of "tax and spend" fiscal policy in Illinois.

Last week Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner continued his three-year standoff with House Speaker for Life Mike Madigan's liberal Democratic machine over a $5 billion annual income-tax hike. The Democrats have dug in their heels.

Anyone who thinks this soak-the-rich scheme will solve Illinois' long-term budget crisis should have their head examined. Illinois already ranks in the top three among the 50 states in state-local tax burden, so if raising taxes were any kind of solution here, the Land of Lincoln would be a Garden of Eden.

Instead the state has been a financial basket case for years.

This is a state that is now $14.5 billion in arrears in paying its bills, whose bonds have been down-graded to near junk …

CNN has lost the ability to act like a news organization

Erick Erickson:
Jeff Zucker, what are you doing? You guys are getting the snot kicked out of you over a series of missteps. I get to my hotel tonight and the TV in the lobby is on CNN and you guys are covering, still, the fake Time magazine cover at a Trump golf course while on your website you are devoting pixels to fanboy-ish praise of Barack Obama’s jeans selection. This is CNN?

I hold CNN in fond affection and have a lot of friends who work there. I feel for them in the midst of an all out assault on their integrity. There are a ton of good people who work at CNN. The network does a ton a good and offers a great news package.

But it seems someone at the network has decided to double down on stereotype. The Trump Administration is pounding them for fake news and they’re focusing their attention on a silly story about a Time magazine cover and a former President’s jeans selection. It is utterly ridiculous. It makes the network seem petty and small at a time the network is being accu…

Former Michigan Supreme Court justice to run for Senate

Detroit News:
The Republican race to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow in 2018 heated up Wednesday as former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bob Young jumped in, a GOP rival fought back and an outside group continued to push for another entrant.

Young announced his campaign in a streaming video from an empty lot at the corner of 14th Street and McGraw in Detroit. The site of his childhood home, Young said it’s where he learned middle-class values that made him a “black, conservative Republican,” three words he noted are rarely used in the same sentence.

“It was the most dramatic physical symbol I could use to demonstrate what liberal policies like those that Debbie Stabenow supports have generated,” Young told The Detroit News in a follow-up interview. “A lot of vacant, empty fields. Programs that cost trillions of dollars and don’t do a thing, except make things worse.”

A 66-year-old Detroit native who now lives in Lainsburg, Young retired from the state Supreme Court in April…

ISIS changes tactics as its numbers shrink

VOA:
With Islamic State in disarray in Raqqa, its fighters are switching to small-scale suicide attacks to fend off a rapid offensive by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and a stream of coalition airstrikes, SDF commanders say.

Unlike past battles, when IS militants attacked SDF front lines with hundreds of fighters and car bombs, the terror group’s new strategy involves using small groups of suicide bombers – six or seven -- to cause large numbers of casualties, SDF commanders on the scene told VOA.

“This new method involves scattered attacks and most likely ends in the killing of all attackers,” SDF commander Agid Muhammad told VOA from Raqqa.

He said IS continues to rely on car bomb operations to hold onto its grip of the city, but its fighters avoid group attacks and large gatherings. He said the new tactic might be a result of repeated U.S.-led coalition airstrikes that have wiped out tens of IS fighters’ gatherings.

“IS thugs try to hide in public buildings such as…

Wind power increases with higher temperatures, solar not so much

Fuel Fix:
Hotter weather may be conducive to more wind in West Texas, a good sign for the part of the state that produces the most wind energy.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which oversees power for 90 percent of the state, is experimenting with long-term wind forecasts that extend beyond a week. In an analysis of the past decade, ERCOT's senior meteorologist Chris Coleman found that hotter temperatures, backed by cooler air in the northwest and high pressure in the east, bring wind to West Texas.

"More times than not, if it's really hot, we have a lot of wind," Coleman said.

If Coleman's research holds up, it could be good news for Texas, which is most desperate for power when temperatures peak in the summer months. Power prices are typically at their highest during

Texas' sweltering summer, and wind power is the cheapest resource available. (In fact, wind power is basically free energy.)
... Wind power may be cheap but it is far from free.  The tran…

North Korea threatens to kill former South Korean leader

Guardian:
North Korea has threatened to impose the death penalty on the South’s former president Park Geun-hye over an alleged plot to assassinate its leader, Kim Jong-un.

Park had “pushed forward” a supposed plan by Seoul’s intelligence services to eliminate the North’s leadership, Pyongyang’s security ministries and prosecutors said in a joint statement carried by its official Korean Central News Agency.

“We declare at home and abroad that we will impose the death penalty on traitor Park Geun-hye,” it said.

The former director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) Lee Byung-ho would meet a similar fate, it added, along with “their groups”.

They “can never make any appeal even though they meet a miserable dog’s death any time, at any place and by whatever methods from this moment”.

The declaration comes after the killing of Kim’s estranged half-brother Kim Jong-nam by two women using the banned nerve agent VX at Kuala Lumpur international airport in February. Both Mala…

Susan Rice plays the race card in response to her unmasking project

Fox News:
'WHY ME?': Susan Rice links race and gender to ‘unmasking’ backlash I find it disgusting that she would even think such a thing.  I have no empathy for someone playing the victim after they take actions that look like a real abuse of power and an unconstitutional invasion of American's privacy for political purposes.

Texans appreciate a guy who is willing to work and will walk three miles to the job

CBS News:
Strangers buy car for 20-year-old Texas man who walks 3 miles to work every day When the guy who gave him a lift posted on Facebook about the guy, the community came together with donations to help him buy a car a dealer discounted a used car for him  They presented it to the young man at work and he tearfully thanked those responsible.

Media tries to downplay revealing video that shows anti-Trump bias

Washington Post:
Sarah Huckabee Sanders lambastes fake news — and then promotes a journalist accused of deceptive videos

In the span of a few seconds, the deputy White House press secretary attacked the media for inaccuracies and then turned around and urged them to watch a new video from conservative undercover video journalist James O'Keefe, who has been accused of deceptive editing and tactics. I think it is misleading to suggest that O'Keefe's video might be deceptive.  It is what it is.  It reveals the institutional bias at CNN and he could probably find a similar bias at the Post.  

You can tell it in the visceral hatred media outlets like CNN and the Washington Post have for the President.  From headline writers to assignment editors there is an ongoing attempt to denigrate the President.  It is a focus on the petty and at times factual errors that could have been prevented that were not because they fit the narrative.  The media sometimes acts like high school age m…

Trump administration gets a start on border wall

Image
NY Times:

Homeland Security Will Start Building Border Wall Prototypes This Summer


An official said the wall would not span all 1,900 miles of the border, but the Department of Homeland Security has identified some key areas for construction. The prototype will be built as an extension of the current wall near San Diego.  There are parts of the border where there is a natural boundary which may not need a border wall.  It is also possible that a virtual wall may be put in place in some areas such as along the Rio Grade where Ranchers need access to the water.

Port of Corpus Christi expanding to meet export opportunities for Texas crude

Bloomberg:
Late last month, an oil tanker that measures three football fields long and six stories high moved slowly through the port of Corpus Christi, Texas, to test the waters of America’s booming crude-export industry.

After navigating the Aransas pass around 7 a.m. on May 26, the vessel, Euronav NV’s Anne, didn’t pick up any oil. But its arrival in the humid air of South Texas marked the first time ever a tanker of that size had called on a U.S. terminal in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Anne docked at Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s terminal to determine if some of the world’s biggest carriers could start ferrying oil from Texas to foreign buyers. The shipping upgrade is necessary after a surge in production from U.S. shale fields like the Permian Basin brought more oil than Gulf Coast refiners could handle. And Corpus Christi is vying to become America’s main export hub.

“Corpus Christi was the No. 1 port for U.S. crude exports last year, and this trend is continuing,” said John LaRue, t…

LNG exporter from US looking to expand its business

Bloomberg:
Sixteen months after finishing a terminal and sending the first cargo of U.S. shale gas overseas, Cheniere Energy Inc. is already preparing for its next round of export projects.

Cheniere is looking at new ways to finance more terminals that chill gas to a liquid and ship it across the globe, including skipping banks altogether and seeking out other capital sources, Chief Executive Officer Jack Fusco said in an interview at the company’s headquarters in Houston. The company has room to grow: It’s leased additional acres at its flagship Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana and has the option to purchase more land at a Corpus Christi, Texas, site, where another export project is under construction.

Cheniere’s looking to build more LNG plants even as supplies from the U.S. to Australia are flooding the global market, expanding a glut of the fuel and prompting investors to back new export facilities at the slowest pace since 1999. But a second round of projects is emerging on spec…

Trump outpaces Obama in spurring black employment

PJ Media:
Black Unemployment at Lowest Rate in 17 Years The next challenge should be to increase the labor participation rate to get many who have quit looking for work back in jobs.  Trump campaigned on improving results for blacks in America.

Sarah Palin files defamation case against the NY Times

Daily Caller:
Sarah Palin is suing The New York Times for defamation, according to documents filed in federal court Tuesday that were obtained by The Daily Caller.

The lawsuit has to do with an editorial the NYT ran on June 14 that falsely smeared Palin as inciting the 2011 shooting of Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords by a mentally ill man. There is no evidence to support the NYT’s implication that Palin played a role in inciting the Giffords shooting. (RELATED: NYT Uses GOP Shooting To Falsely Attack Sarah Palin With Debunked Conspiracy Theory)

“Mrs. Palin brings this action to hold The Times accountable for defaming her by publishing a statement about her that it knew to be false: that Mrs. Palin was responsible for inciting a mass shooting at a political event in January 2011,” Palin’s suit states.

“Specifically, on June 14, 2017, The Times Editorial Board, which represents the ‘voice’ of The Times, falsely stated as a matter of fact to millions of people that Mrs. Palin incited Jared L…

Acting FBI chief faces inquiries on past conduct

John Solomon and Sara Carter:
FBI chief McCabe faces three separate federal inquiries into his behavior One of the inquiries relates to a sex discrimination case mentioned in a post yesterday.  That case is the one where Gen. Mike Flynn weighed in on behalf of the accuser and some argue the FBI investigation of Flynn was payback.

Another has to do with his apparent campaigning on behalf of his wife when she sought office in Virginia.  It is alleged that this may have violated the Hatch Act which restricts campaign activities by government employees.

The DOJ Inspector General is also investigating whether McCade properly disclosed campaign contributions to his wife and whether he should have recused himself from the Clinton investigation.

Stolen police chopper used to attack Venezuelan Supreme Court

BBC:
Venezuela crisis: Helicopter launches attack on Supreme Court Sime grenades were dropped and shots were fired but no injuries were reported.  The attack does demonstrate the continued dissatisfaction with the Maduro government and his court-packing scheme to disenfranchise the legislature after voters put the opposition in charge.

Mexico losing over $1 billion annually to fuel thefts from pipelines

Fuel Fix:
Thieves are tapping into the pipelines of Mexico’s state-owned oil and gas company, Pemex, with such frequency and taking so much gasoline, the company is losing well more than $1 billion a year, leaving some U.S. companies with second thoughts about entering the market, a Rice University expert said this week.

The number of pipeline taps has risen from about 200 in 2006 to nearly 7,000 last year — almost 20 break-ins a day — according to an analysis of Pemex figures by Rice postdoctoral fellow Adrian Duhalt.

Losses have risen from under $1 billion in 2009 to $1.7 billion last year.

Mexican authorities have long taken a “hands-off approach,” Duhalt said in the paper, “Looting Fuel Pipelines in Mexico.”But the problem’s gotten in worse in recent years. Three years ago, Mexican officials deregulated the country’s oil and gas market and broke Pemex’s monopoly, inviting outside companies to take part, with hopes of spurring exploration and production and boosting the country’s sagg…

Obama's Russian screw up

Eli Lake:
Obama Choked on Russia Long Before the 2016 Election

It's no wonder Putin thought he could meddle in the U.S. He had gotten away with everything else he tried.

...
Rather than asking why Obama didn't do more to stop Russian meddling, the better question is why President Vladimir Putin thought he could get away with this interference in the first place. In every respect, the U.S. is more powerful than Russia. It has a much larger economy. Its military is superior. Its cyber capabilities are greater. Its diplomatic position is stronger. So why did Putin believe he could treat America like it was Estonia?

The answer is that Obama spent the first six years of his presidency turning a blind eye to Russian aggression. In his first term, Obama pursued a policy of "reset" with Moscow, even though he took office only five months after Russia had occupied two Georgian provinces in the summer of 2008. In the 2012 election, Obama mocked his Republican opponent, Mitt Rom…

Sound suppressors for rifles could give US troops a tactical advantage in firefight

Military Times:
Two squads of infantryman approach an enemy position, one from each side. The commander orders the squad on the enemy’s right flank to attack.

Rifles and machine guns open fire.

The cacophony of the firefight pulls the enemy in that direction as they return fire.

Meanwhile, the second squad charges the opposite flank, sound suppressors ­attached to their rifles and machine guns. They begin shooting.

The enemy commander has no idea he’s taking casualties on that side until it’s too late. His position is overrun. His unit is wiped out.

It is a potential scenario and capability in the not-too-distant future that seasoned Marine and Army infantry experts are working toward as they gather data, test new technology and experiment with innovative tactics.

The Army and Marine Corps are both interested in expanding the use of suppressors, possibly even beyond semi-automatic rifles to include machine guns — even .50-cals. Some have called it the “stealth technology” fo…

Does Google manipulate its search results?

Washington Post:
E.U. announces record $2.7 billion fine against Google, accusing it of manipulating search results

The landmark ruling sets up a major clash about whether government regulators can shape the behavior of one of the world’s most powerful companies. Google is expected to appeal the decision. The EU tends to have an oppressive regulatory regime that strikes out at non-EU entities it sees as too powerful.  It is a system based on "experts" who act as control freaks.

That being said, I have heard complaints in the US that Google logarithms have a built-in liberal bias.  Some conservative bloggers saw their hits took a dive because of their support for President Trump.  Others have seen an increase for the same reasons.  I suspect that some on both the left and the right game the Google system to get hits.

While Google is still a dominant search engine, it is getting competition from social media such as Facebook that drives almost as much traffic these days.  It is…

Does this explain why Congress is no longer eager to hear from Carter Page on Russia story?

Image
Washington Post:
FBI questioned Trump campaign adviser Carter Page at length in Russia probe


Over a series of five meetings in March, Page denied wrongdoing when asked about allegations that he may have acted as a go-between for Russia and the campaign, according to a person familiar with Page’s account. Page seems eager to testify and clear his name.  What is becoming clearer is that the Russian collusion story is cratering and the FBI's use of a FISA warrant against Page is looking like an abuse of power based on the dirty dossier put together by a Democrat opposition research team.  It is looking like the Obama administration mislead the FISA Court to spy on its domestic political opposition.

Is 'losing insurance' calculation based on removal of individual mandate?

NY Times:
Health Bill Is in Peril as G.O.P. Support Wanes After Report
Senators Susan Collins and Rand Paul said they would vote against even debating the measure after the Congressional Budget Office said it would cause 22 million people to lose insurance.Senator Mitch McConnell, the chief author of the bill, must change the minds of reluctant Republicans, withdraw the bill or let it be defeated. I suspect the removal of the individual mandate, i.e. the tax on those who do not buy insurance, is the main reason for the "loss of coverage" calculation.  I think the Senate has replaced this with a penalty that gives people an incentive to buy insurance without the regressive tax imposed by Obamacare.  If that is the case the Republicans have not been able to break through the media hostility to their plan to explain it.

As Reason points out in the link above the mandate has been replaced:
...
Instead of a fine for going uncovered, as in Obamacare, the Senate GOP bill now includes…

OPEC shaken by its inability to control the market for oil

Bloomberg/Fuel Fix:
It may be too soon to write OPEC's obituary, but the oil producer club appears in urgent need of late-life care. It shows little understanding of where it is, how it got there or where it's going. While it still manages to collect new members here and there, its core group looks more fragile than at any point in nearly 30 years.

The historic output agreements, put together so painstakingly last year, are failing. Nearly 12 months of shuttle diplomacy culminated in two deals that would see 22 countries cut production by nearly 1.8 million barrels a day. Implementation has been better than for any previous output cut, with compliance put at 106 percent in May. A resounding success? Hardly.

We're now in the final month of those deals and oil prices are lower than when they were agreed. Not only have producers sacrificed volume, but they earn less for each barrel they do produce.

The recent extension of the deals just leaves output restraint in place for anoth…

Was retaliation behind the FBI Flynn probe?

Circa.com:
Secret memos show Trump adviser roiled bureau by intervening in agent’s discrimination case before he was targeted in Russia case.

The FBI launched a criminal probe against former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn two years after the retired Army general roiled the bureau’s leadership by intervening on behalf of a decorated counterterrorism agent who accused now-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and other top officials of sexual discrimination, according to documents and interviews.

Flynn’s intervention on behalf of Supervisory Special Agent Robyn Gritz was highly unusual, and included a letter in 2014 on his official Pentagon stationary, a public interview in 2015 supporting Gritz’s case and an offer to testify on her behalf. His offer put him as a hostile witness in a case against McCabe, who was soaring through the bureau’s leadership ranks.

The FBI sought to block Flynn’s support for the agent, asking a federal administrative law judge in May 2014 to keep Fl…

The lack of civility on the left

Susan Wright:
When they say they want “acceptance” and “tolerance,” you should always be prepared to read between the lines.

To the LGBT community, it will always be “Tolerance for me, but not for thee.”

Hypocrisy is, after all, considered a virtue on the lunatic fringe.

On Sunday, New York City held its Pride Parade.

That wouldn’t be pride in the resilience of the human spirit, pride of actual accomplishments, or pride in anything that would otherwise move the nation to a higher level of achievement and general well-being.

It’s a celebration of what goes on in their bedrooms – something homosexuals used to adamantly insist that we stay out of.

And they’re nasty about it.

Case in point would be the treatment of the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

Leaving lunch on Sunday, with her young son in tow, Haley says she was subjected to boos and “hateful things” by the revelers.
... There is more.

Apparently, they are proud of their nastiness.  Many in this group have gone …

Democrat attacks on GOP are becoming more illogical

Derek Hunter:
...
Putting aside the hypocrisy for a second, how dumb must Democrats think their base is to believe the other political party’s election strategy is to hasten the deaths of millions of people? How idiotic is the idea that one party’s plan to continue to win elections across the country is the screw as many people as possible out of something?

Moreover, Democrats are telling their zombie army that the GOP’s “secret plan” is to take from the poor and give to the rich. Aside from the abject stupidity of it, what exactly would the rich take from the poor? How, exactly, does one get rich by taking things from the poor? Do they have secret stashes of money they’re unaware of and rich people are sneaking into subsidized housing at night to empty the area under their couch cushions?

Actually, there is a way to get incredibly rich off the poor – it’s by claiming to be their champion. How many liberals have become fabulously wealthy by claiming to be “working for the poor”? They …

CNN reputation takes another hit

Image
This Project Veritas video catches a CNN producers admitting they have no proof of their allegations against the President and they are doing mainly for the ratings.



This is on the heels of CNN having to retract one of their Russia collusion stories and the resignation of three of the people who worked on the story.  The piece was evidently published without the review of a legal team.



This is happening as the Russian collusion story collapsed from a lack of evidence and the media switched to an obstruction of justice narrative that was equally dubious.

It is hard to imagine a media outlet squandering it viewers' trust like this.  These events play into the President's characterization of the cable news outlet as "fake news."  For Trump supporters, this will be seen as proof of that charge.

Did Obama flunk Constitutional Law at Harvard?

Joe Cunningham:
With the Trinity Lutheran decision offered by the Supreme Court yesterday, we officially reached the end of an era.

That case was the last one the Obama Administration took any part in, having filed an amicus brief to the court supporting the state of Missouri’s decision to withhold funds from the Christian school. The decision, which was overwhelmingly in favor of the school and not the government, is the last beatdown Obama’s administration will receive from the court.

And boy did it receive some beatings.
Overall, Epstein and Posner found, Presidents and government agencies prevailed in about two-thirds of all cases, giving credence to the saying that “when the president goes to court, he wins.”

Except when that President is Barack Obama. Obama’s win rate wasn’t just significantly lower than other administrations, it was the lowest surveyed. The Obama administration won just 50.5 percent of its Supreme Court cases, according to the study. How does this compare to ot…

Leakers pushing a political agenda and harming US national security?

Washington Free Beacon:
...
"They [former Obama officials] offer ridiculous explanations about why Obama couldn't act more forcefully, and then they apparently leak even more information about certain U.S. measures they claim have been taken against Russia," said one senior U.S. official who deals closely with the matter. "The publication of this information, if it's true, could do some damage to our national security, but the sources don't seem to mind doing that if it helps advance their political narrative."

The sources leaking this information appear to be the same former Obama administration allies and holdovers behind a months-long series of damaging leaks.

"The sources for this [Post] article are obviously the same Obama holdovers who constantly leak classified information to the Washington Post," said the source, who would only discuss the matter under condition of anonymity. "They went back to the those same reporters and tried t…

Raising minimum wage in Seattle has predictable results

Washington Post:
A ‘very credible’ new study on Seattle’s $15 minimum wage has bad news for liberals

Seattle officials wanted to help poor workers when they voted to boost the minimum wage, but a new study says they may have done the opposite. It proves once again that liberals just don't get economics.  The attempt to treat entry-level jobs as something other than that leads to fewer of them and the impact falls disproportionately on the poor and minorities who need this leg up into the job market.  They also hurt small business which is the creator of jobs.

Laser on Apache attack chopper passes first test

Tyler Rogoway:
We reported on the concept and test program over a year ago, and now it has finally happened—a AH-64 Apache equipped with a tactical high-energy laser (HEL) successfully took out targets on the White Sands Missile Range. The test is a major breakthrough in directed energy weapons and rotary-wing air warfare to say the least. Above all else it is a glimpse of what's to come on the battlefields of the near future.
...
"A high energy laser mounted on an Apache AH-64 attack helicopter acquired and hit an unmanned target. The test was conducted by Raytheon and the U.S. Army Apache Program Management Office in collaboration with U.S. Special Operations Command at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

It was the first time a fully integrated laser system successfully shot a target from a rotary-wing aircraft over a wide variety of flight regimes, altitudes and air speeds, proving the feasibility of laser attack from Apache.
... It remains unclear exactly how powerfu…

Supreme Court reinstates Trump travel ban, will hear appeal

The Hill:
The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear the government’s appeal of lower court rulings blocking the immigration order from taking effect nationwide.

The court also granted the government's request to reinstate part of Trump's travel ban, which would affect people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

As a result of the decision, people who do not have a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States would be barred from entry. People who can show they have a relationship to a person or entity will be allowed to enter the country.
The unsigned order putting part of the ban in place would be effective within 72 hours.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, along with the newest Justice, Neil Gorsuch, Trump's nominee to the court earlier this year, wanted to lift the entire ban, according to the order.
... This is a win for the Trump administration and it could get even better when the case is finally heard.  The previous co…

A 'hold my beer moment' for the Democrats

Kurt Schlichter:
Advice To Help Our Beloved Democrat Friends Win In 2018 This does a pretty funny job of taking the Democrats current approach and wrapping it into a somewhat coherent approach that will assure continued failure.

Petrochemical business a top beneficiary of the shale gas revolution

Wall Street Journal:
The Shale Revolution’s Staggering Impact in Just One Word: Plastics

Petrochemicals, once simply a cheap byproduct, are powering a U.S. manufacturing boom and export bonanza The petrochemical companies have invested billions in new facilities along the Texas Gulf Coast and many of them are just now coming into operation.  They are creating thousands of jobs and a huge export potential that will directly impact the US balance of trade.  Exxon and Dow have invested heavily in the new plants and the Saudis have also joined the competition.

Cargo ship captain claims it gave warning to Fitzgerald and tried to steer to avoid before collision

Reuters:
A U.S. warship struck by a container vessel in Japanese waters failed to respond to warning signals or take evasive action before a collision that killed seven of its crew, according to a report of the incident by the Philippine cargo ship's captain.

Multiple U.S. and Japanese investigations are under way into how the guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald and the much larger ACX Crystal container ship collided in clear weather south of Tokyo Bay in the early hours of June 17.

In the first detailed account from one of those directly involved, the cargo ship's captain said the ACX Crystal had signalled with flashing lights after the Fitzgerald "suddenly" steamed on to a course to cross its path.

The container ship steered hard to starboard (right) to avoid the warship, but hit the Fitzgerald 10 minutes later at 1:30 a.m., according to a copy of Captain Ronald Advincula's report to Japanese ship owner Dainichi Investment Corporation that was seen by Reute…

Tillerson being ill served by State Department bureaucracy

Image
NY Times:
Tillerson Finds His Role Undercut by the Oval Office
Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson has found himself out of sync, especially on Middle East policy, with President Trump and his top advisers Jared Kushner and Stephen K. Bannon. I think he is getting bad advice from the career State Department employees who seem to have an unrealistic assessment of situations like that in Qatar.  They are also giving bad advice on the Muslim Brotherhood.  Trump seems to have a more realistic approach to the situation.

It is time to move past the failed policies of the past that have allowed the Islamist cancer to spread in the Middle East.  With allies like Saudi Arabia and Egypt expressing a more realistic approach to the problem. the US should seize the opportunities presented to rid themselves of trolls like Qatar's leaders.

Obama's Russian chopper deal for Afghanistan is a failure

Washington Times:
The Donald Trump Pentagon, in so many words, is saying that the Obama administration’s decision to waive punitive sanctions and buy combat helicopters from Russia was a bad deal.

The Pentagon’s first congressionally required report on Afghanistan under President Trump says the Russian Mi-17 chopper has proved a failure in the long war and will be phased out in favor of American-made UH-60 Black Hawks.

The Obama administration came to realize the failure in its last weeks in office and stopped the deal.

The report this month on “Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan” marks official confirmation that the Russian model broke down too often for the Afghan air force logistics system to keep up.

“Along with the increased expense and difficulty in maintaining the Mi-17 helicopter fleet, utility helicopters are in high demand and the required maintenance exceeds current capacity and capability, leading to maintenance backlogs and a reduced number of aircraft available,…