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Archive for December 2017

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The Trump Era

How Trump would Resolve Insolvent U.S. Postal Service

December 30th 2017

Mail Room

President Donald Trump, who continues to show his prowess in the use of social media to reach the American public, suggested how the U.S. Postal Service might show a profit in the future. The President wrote: “Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer? Should be charging much more!”

Amazon and USPS have worked out a deal to deliver Amazon’s packages for less than it would pay for other delivery services. According to Bloomberg, analyst David Vernon estimated that the postal service delivered 40 percent of Amazon’s packages in 2014. Citigroup estimated this year that delivery of an average package through USPS an additional $1.46 should be charged if costs were “fairly allocated.” Read more ..

Catholics on Edge

Vatican Says Number of Murdered Missionaries is Just 'Tip of the Iceberg'

December 30th 2017

Mexico crosses

According to an account by Vatican authorities, in 2017 there were 23 Catholic missionaries and pastoral care workers were killed worldwide. Among them were 13 priests, one religious brother, one religious sister,  and eight lay persons. For the eighth consecutive year, the place most affected, with an extremely elevated number of pastoral care workers killed is in the Americas, where eight priests, one religious brother, and two lay people were killed. In Africa, 10 pastoral care workers were killed (4 priests, 1 religious sister, 5 lay people), while in Asia, one priest and one lay pastoral worker were killed.

In January, the body of Father Joaquin Hernandez Sifuentes was found in northern Mexico. He was the victim of home invasion, abduction, and murder.

Between, 2000 and 2016, there were 424 pastoral care workers and religious killed, including five bishops. The majority of the pastoral care workers were killed in robberies and violent attacks. Read more ..

The Rise of Man

Tibetan Plateau Discovery Shows Humans May Be Tougher Than We Thought

December 29th 2017

Potala Lhasa Tibet

The first humans venturing onto the Tibetan Plateau, often called the “roof of the world,” faced one of the most brutal environments our species can endure. At an average elevation of over 4,500 meters, it is a cold and arid place with half the oxygen present at sea level. Science has long held that humans did not set foot in this alien place until 15,000 years ago, as suggested by archaeological evidence of the earliest known settlement on the northeastern fringe of the plateau 3,000 meters above sea level. But now new genetic data indicate this may have occurred much earlier—possibly as far back as the last ice age, 62,000 years ago.

A better understanding of modern Tibetans’ genetic mix and diversity could help reconstruct the history of migration and population expansion in the region, and may help unravel the mystery of the ethnic origins of Tibetans—and of how humans have adapted to low-oxygen conditions at high altitudes. Read more ..

Jerusalem as Capitol

Defining ‘Occupied’ and the Semantic Battle for Peace

December 29th 2017


In a demonstration of how completely at odds his views are from those of the foreign policy establishment, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman reportedly asked the State Department to stop using the term “occupied territories” and instead refer to the “West Bank.” According to accounts that have filtered out of Foggy Bottom, the State Department said no. But we are also told that after pressure “from above”—i.e. President Donald Trump, the current boss of everyone at State as well as Friedman—the issue has yet to be decided.

If this strikes you as a lot of bother about mere words, you’re wrong. These words are part of a high-stakes battle to determine the outcome of the debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Media on Edge

Media Hysteria Continues to Rule

December 29th 2017

CNN Building sign

Many of us in media are thoroughly embarrassed at how our industry is behaving. ut aside for a moment whether or not you like Donald Trump. It’s obvious some journalists and news outlets have gone completely off-the-rails.  Their hatred of Trump or anything associated with him is truly disturbing.

Consider this:

A CNN political analyst attacked White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. April Ryan challenged Sanders if she really baked the Thanksgiving pie she posted on social media. Ryan used the hashtag FakePie.

Politico contributing editor Virginia Heffernan broke the story that Donald Trump, Jr. allegedly used foul language in school. Pre-school. When he was three-years old.

The Huffington Post published a comedic investigation on how Trump shakes hands.  But it’s since followed it up with a series of bizarre reports criticizing Trump handshakes [here, here, here, here]. ewsweek accused Ivanka Trump of plagiarism.  More specifically, of plagiarizing herself. Using one’s own work isn’t plagiarism.  Even middle schoolers know this. t seems a week doesn’t go by without a major news outlet or two announcing a “bombshell” only to retract the story [here, here, here]. his is both disturbing and embarrassing.

Campus Hate

Anti-Israel Bias Reigns at Columbia

December 29th 2017


When Columbia University’s Center for Palestine Studies was established in 2010, Rashid Khalidi, its founding and current director — and a supporter of an academic boycott of Israel — stated that steering clear of political activism was an important goal of the center:

“The last thing you want is a Middle East institute or a center for Israel or Palestine that isn’t within the university mission. . . . We’d avoid doing anything that’s directly related to any political activism.”

However, just seven years later, new research from our organization reveals that the Center for Palestine Studies has become an academic epicenter for anti-Israel political activism, as well as the promotion of an academic boycott of Israel and its mother movement, boycott, divestment and sanctions, otherwise known as BDS. Read more ..

The Obama Years

Josh Meyer Gets an Echo Chamber Beat-Down

December 29th 2017

Obama pensive with flag

A week after Josh Meyer’s Politico expose,“The Secret Backstory Of How Obama Let Hezbollah Off the Hook,” former Obama officials are still berating Meyer for his 13,000-word article detailing how the Obama administration killed a nearly decade-long DEA effort to stem a global Hezbollah cocaine-smuggling-and-organized-crime ring to help secure its nuclear deal with Iran. “This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” former Defense Department analyst David Asher explained in the article. “They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”

Asher helped establish and oversee the project, codenamed Cassandra, that looked into Hezbollah’s wide-range of illicit activities across the globe, including weapons procurement, drug trafficking, and money laundering. Senior Obama officials, according to Asher, ignored the legal and financial instruments that he and others had provided to target a terrorist organization with American blood on its hands and was still plotting against the United States. Read more ..

The Election on Edge

Bush/McCain Associate Subpoenaed to Reveal Key Role in "Dirty Dossier"

December 28th 2017

File Folders

On Wednesday, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, issued a subpoena to an associate of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who allegedly traveled to the United Kingdom to receive a copy and a briefing on a salacious, uncorroborated dossier from a former British spy, Christopher Steele. David J. Kramer, a former State Department official who is now a senior fellow at the McCain Institute for International Leadership, traveled to London in November 2016 and met with Steele. He then returned to the U.S. and gave the dossier to Sen. McCain.

McCain gave a copy of the document that made unsubstantiated accusations about Donald Trump to James Comey, who was then the director of the FBI. However, the FBI already had a copy of the dossier because Steele had himself given it to the bureau, reportedly by installments beginning in July 2016. The dossier was formulated at the behest of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential operation.


The Obama Years

The Obama Years: A Legacy Of Scandal And Deception

December 28th 2017

Obama with baseball bat

On December 13, former vice president, Joe Biden, appeared on CBS with the hosts of “This Morning” where he peddled his new book and showered his former boss with praise. During the course of the interview, he was asked about his relationship with Obama and responded with the following; “I’ve served with eight presidents and I’ve gotten to know four of them very well. I’ve never met any president that has more character, more integrity, and more backbone than this guy does.” Then he went completely off the rails when he absurdly added; “And eight years, not a hint — not a hint — of a scandal.

What was perhaps even more outrageous than the statement itself was the fact that none of This Morning’s hosts challenged the veracity of that statement and allowed it to pass without a scintilla of scrutiny, exposing yet again an extreme bias existing within elements of the establishment media. In fact, the Obama administration was among the most corrupt and scandal-ridden in recent memory. Biden’s comment merits further examination so let’s buckle up and take a stroll down memory lane. Read more ..

Refugees on Edge

Trump Should Crack Down on UNRWA, Finally End Fiction of Palestinian ‘Refugees’

December 28th 2017

Palestinian Rock Attackers

As the UN General Assembly voted to reject America’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, US Ambassador Nikki Haley issued a stern warning: We’ll remember this the next time you come calling for more hard-earned American taxpayer dollars. Most nation-states called her bluff, leaving many to wonder what comes next.

If President Trump wants to use his financial leverage at the United Nations to strike at the heart of the anti-America, anti-Israel institutional infrastructure, he should look no further than the agency responsible for Palestinian refugees: the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

By most definitions, refugees are those forced to flee their country because of persecution, war or violence. Nearly every refugee in the world is cared for by the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, whose ultimate goal is repatriation, resettlement and integration. The exception? Palestinian refugees. Read more ..

Jerusalem as Capitol

Israel Applauds Egyptian Writer's Remarks on Jerusalem

December 28th 2017

Jerusalem-Dome-of-the Rock

The Israeli embassy in Cairo has expressed gratitude for an Egyptian writer's controversial remarks about the status of Jerusalem.

The embassy was referring to an interview that was broadcast on Sunday, in which Youssef Ziedan, an Egyptian novelist and scholar, said that the al-Aqsa mosque is not located in Jerusalem's al-Haram al-Sharif compound and that Jerusalem is not a holy city.

In a local televised appearance, Ziedan also laid blame on Arab and Israeli leaders, accusing them of repeatedly exploiting Jerusalem as a battleground that has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

In response, the embassy said on Tuesday in a statement posted on its Facebook page: "We are pleased to hear the words of writer and historian Youssef Ziedan and his description of the deep-rooted relationship between Jews and Muslims that existed even before Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him." 


Palestinians on Edge

UNRWA Refugees: Where have They Gone?

December 27th 2017

Palstinian refugee camp

Palestinian refugees are a slippery population -- but when 285,535 of them go missing from a small country such as Lebanon, it should raise eyebrows.

UNRWA in Lebanon reports on its website that 449,957 refugees live under its protection in 12 camps, but a survey by Lebanon's Central Administration of Statistics, together with the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, could only find 174,535. The Lebanese government said the others "left." Okay, maybe they did -- Lebanon constrained them viciously, so it would make some sense. What does NOT make sense, then, is the UN giving UNRWA a budget based on nearly half a million people when, in fact, there are far fewer than a quarter of a million. Who is paying and who is getting the money?

We are and they are.


The Race for EVs

Superfast StoreDot Batteries Advance Superfast EV Charging

December 27th 2017

Ford Focus electric

The truck division of Daimler AG has led a $60 million invest round in StoreDot Ltd. (Herzeliya, Israel), a developer of peptide-based quantum dots founded in 2011.

The funding brings the amount raised to more than $125 million and includes participation of financial institutions from Israel and China, as well as existing investors such as Samsung Ventures and Norma Investments, representing Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club.

Daimler will become a strategic partner of StoreDot and work with the company on fast-charging for electric vehicles. Samsung took a similar strategic position with StoreDot in 2013 to work on batteries for smartphones ( Samsung spots startup's quantum-dot potential ). It is not known that the technology has yet produced any exploitable results for Samsung.


Jerusalem on Edge

Displeased with Palestinians, Arab states Chart new Jerusalem Policy

December 26th 2017


Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are displeased with the way the Palestinian Authority has reacted to U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and his decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy to the city, Israel Hayom has learned.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit announced over the weekend that he would head a new committee, comprising the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan, Saudia Arabia and the Palestinian Authority, to devise a new policy on Jerusalem.

Sources in Ramallah, Cairo and Amman told Israel Hayom that the decision to establish the committee was made after it became apparent that the Palestinian Authority's efforts to counter Trump's announcement had been ineffective.

"The decision to establish this committee was, in effect, imposed on the Palestinian Authority by  Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan in a move that was backed by the Arab League," a senior Jordanian official told Israel Hayom.

"This is a super committee that is headed by the secretary general of the Arab League, and it effectively puts the Arab League in charge of the policy on Jerusalem, taking it away from the Palestinians.

"The Palestinians' efforts to sway public opinion have been a complete failure, and as a result, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has created a rift between us [the Arab world] and Trump. We are once again left with the demagogic, hollow and inflammatory rhetoric of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan." Read more ..

The United Nation Continues To Be A Moral Cesspool

December 26th 2017


The vote in the United Nations General Assembly concerning Jerusalem on Thursday wasn’t really about Jerusalem — or even so much about Israel.

It was about the self-presumed moral superiority of countries sitting in the U.N. General Assembly, defying the reality of 3,000 years of Jerusalem as the spiritual capital of the Jewish people and the seat of government of three Jewish Commonwealths, but never the seat of government for any other country or people. It was also about defying the reality that only under Jewish sovereignty is Jerusalem an open, tolerant city for people of all faiths, or no faith. They know that. But they thought it was a free shot at Israel, Jews and the president of the United States. Read more ..

The Weapon's Edge

World's Largest Amphibious Aircraft Takes Off in China

December 25th 2017

The East is Red

China's home-grown AG600, the world's largest amphibious aircraft in production, took to the skies on Sunday for its maiden flight. The plane, codenamed "Kunlong" according to state news agency Xinhua, took off from the southern city of Zhuhai and landed after roughly an hour-long flight.

With a wingspan of 38.8 meters (127 feet) and powered by four turboprop engines, the aircraft is capable of carrying 50 people and can stay airborne for 12 hours.

"Its successful maiden flight makes China among the world's few countries capable of developing a large amphibious aircraft," chief designer Huang Lingcai told Xinhua.

The amphibious aircraft has military applications but will be used for firefighting and marine rescue, with at least 17 orders placed so far with state-owned manufacturer Aviation Industry Corp of China, state media reported. Read more ..

Jerusalem on Edge

Guatemala Moving Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

December 25th 2017

Sunset in Jerusalem

Guatemala's president announced on Sunday that the Central American country will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, becoming the first nation to follow the lead of President Donald Trump in ordering the change.

Guatemala was one of nine nations that voted with the United States and Israel on Thursday when the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a non-binding resolution denouncing Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Trump didn't set any timetable for moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and neither did Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales.

In a post on his official Facebook account Sunday, Morales said that after talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he decided to instruct Guatemala's foreign ministry to move the embassy. Read more ..

European Anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism in Germany Soars with Muslim Migration

December 25th 2017

European Anti-Semitism

Often when news emerges about Islamic supremacist abuses — particularly when associated with Muslim migration — it is diminished and even trivialized in the media by means of “Islamophobia” propaganda or largely trumped-up concerns about “right-wing nationalism.”

Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post reported that Jews in the German city of Bochum “announced that they will no longer wear kippot because of attacks on them by Muslim youths.” The Sunday Times also wrote that Muslim migrants were behind the rise in anti-Semitism all across Europe. Surprisingly, the Huffington Post also reported that Muslim migrants “streaming into Europe from the Middle East are bringing with them virulent anti-Semitism which is erupting from Scandinavia to France to Germany.” Read more ..

Trump Chose Courage at the UN over Jerusalem

December 24th 2017

At the UN General Assembly on Dec. 21, President Trump courageously had the US stand with Israel against virtually the entire world. President Trump chose to stand with Israel and to chastise America’s other allies for their hypocrisy. He did more than that; he said that actions have consequences and that America would financially penalize those nations who opposed the US recognition of Israel’s capital and the US moving its embassy to Jerusalem. The US media did not focus on the fact that a record 65 states abstained from voting in favor of the resolution. Instead the media highlighted that our European allies voted against the US, without pointing out how these nations have become hostages to their growing Muslim populations and threats of terrorism.

Jewish critics of President Trump love to heap praise on Ambassador Nikki Haley as if her clear voice in support of Israel at the UN reflected anything other than the policies of the president of the US. Ambassador Haley is President Trump’s representative; she is not a free agent. It is Trump’s policies she expounded when she said at the UN:

“America will put our embassy in Jerusalem. That is what the American people want us to do, and it is the right thing to do. No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that. But this vote will make a difference on how Americans look at the UN and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN. And this vote will be remembered.”

American Jewish communal organizations were quick to denounce the UN vote; but they could not bring themselves to praise President Trump for his courageous stand. By their partisan actions, they forfeit their right to speak for the communal interests of American Jews. Their failure makes it crucially important that we coalesce in grassroots organizations to speak out. Over the opposition of the rest of the world, President Trump Chose the Jews. Thank you, Mr. President.

Turkey on Edge

Erdogan's Nuclear Ambitions

December 24th 2017

Turkish military parade with flags

Turkey is rapidly developing into a threat to peace and stability in the Middle East.
The regime of President [formerly Prime Minister] Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AKP Justice and Development Party are increasingly authoritarian. Their effort to obtain nuclear power with its military offshoots would make it an imposing and new threat to the whole region.
Behind Erdogan's efforts, of course, is nostalgia for Turkey's once dominant role in that part of the world. The Turkish Empire at its zenith in the early 19th century stretched from the gates of Vienna to Aden to Gibraltar, incorporating most of the eastern Mediterranean. Its collapse in World War I left behind a truncated nationalist state dedicated to linguistic Turks although with considerable racial and ethnic minorities. Read more ..

Israel on Edge

U.N. Votes 128-9 to Criticize U.S. Decision on Jerusalem

December 22nd 2017

Western Wall - Wailing Wall Jerusalem

The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday adopted a resolution criticizing the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and begin the process of moving its embassy there, a vote that followed warnings from the Trump administration that the U.S. would take personally any votes cast against it.

Thursday’s nonbinding resolution was adopted with 128 nations in favor, nine against and 35 abstaining. Joining the U.S. and Israel in voting against the resolution were Togo, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Micronesia, Palau, Honduras and Guatemala. Among those that abstained were Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Poland and the Philippines.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley tweeted after the vote a list of the nations that voted against the resolution or abstained, writing that "we appreciate these countries for not falling to the irresponsible ways of the @UN."

Before votes were cast, Haley admonished the world body for its historical criticism of Israel. She said it was the expectation of the U.S., which she noted is the greatest contributor to the U.N., that its “goodwill” toward the body be met with respect, not with the condemnation wrapped into the resolution adopted Thursday.

“The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation,” Haley said. “We will remember it when we are once again called upon to make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations, and we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.” Read more ..

The Edge of History

What Russian Revolution?

December 22nd 2017


Last month marked the 100th anniversary of the so-called Russian "revolution." There are few events in history that have been subject to so much misinformation and disinformation. To mention just the most significant:

(1) There was no revolution in Russia in November 1917. There was a coup d'état in St. Petersburg perpetrated by the Bolshevik Party. Its members assaulted the Winter Palace, where the Provisional Government, which succeeded the downfall of the Tsar in March of that year was sitting and proclaimed itself the new government of Russia.

(2) Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the Bolsheviks, was unknown in Russia outside the major cities. He was acting on behalf of Germany, at that time at war with Russia. The Germans smuggled him into Russia from exile in Switzerland precisely for the purpose of staging a coup, taking control of St. Petersburg and surrendering his country to Germany. Lenin did that and signed the punitive treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which granted Germany all of Poland and Ukraine and huge territories in Russia itself. This permitted the Germans to transfer a lot of troops and military equipment to the Western front, where the subsequent German offensive in 1918 would in all probability have succeeded in defeating France and driving the English out of the continent had not the American army arrived just in time. Read more ..

After the Election

Criminal Investigation into Uranium One Re-ignites

December 22nd 2017

Hillary Clinton

An FBI investigation was dormant until Thursday when it was revealed that the Justice Department may re-examine the Uranium One deal that was approved by the federal government and under authority of Hillary Clinton while she served as Barack Obama’s secretary of state. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has directed prosecutors to require the FBI to explain evidence about the sale that was uncovered by the agency.

According to NBC News, FBI agents are also being asked if there was any improper effort to sideline prosecution. In 2010, Uranium One was sold in 2010 to a Russian firm. Before the sale could go through, the sale of the Canadian company needed approval from nine U.S. agencies, including the State Department, because it owned substantial holdings in the U.S. Some of the persons benefiting from the sale were also donors to the Clinton Foundation, which is controlled by Hillary and Bill Clinton. Hillary Clinton was not directly involved with the sale, according to reports, but was represented by proxy on a panel of the government agencies.

In November, Sessions said he may appoint a new special counsel to look into Clinton and Uranium One. During his confirmation hearings last year, Sessions recused himself from investigations involving Clinton, thus necessitating a special counsel.


The Race for Autonomous Cars

Autonomous Car for Winter in Development in Finland

December 21st 2017


Autonomous driving is already a challenging thing on normal, dry roads. It is even more so on ice-covered, slippery road. Where else could engineers face this challenge than in Finland? And so Martti, the first automated car to drive autonomously on a snow-covered road is the product of researchers from the VTT Research Centre of Finland.

Martti is a research vehicle developed on the chassis of Volkswagen Touareg. Like its counterpart Marilyn, it is equipped with cameras, antennas, sensors and laser scanners. The number and placement of sensors differs between the vehicles. For example, Martti has three laser scanners sensing the environment only in front of the car, whereas its spouse Marilyn has two scanners looking forwards and one looking backwards.

“When in spring 2017 we taught Marilyn to drive autonomously, this autumn it has been teaching us on how to make Martti such that it can get along with its spouse, and follow GPS and positioning information on its route. Martti has been designed for demanding weather conditions and Marilyn shines as the queen of urban areas,” says project manager Matti Kutila from VTT’s RobotCar Crew, describing the couple.


The Caliphate

Success for al-Qaeda in Syria?

December 20th 2017

IS with Missile

One of the most common concepts to describe al-Qaida’s presence in Syria has been that of ‘playing the long game.'[1] That is, whereas its rival the Islamic State focused on quickly defeating other Syrian insurgent groups and opponents, establishing a state project and imposing the harshest aspects of Islamic law (i.e. the hudud punishments for serious crimes), al-Qaida has chosen to embed deeply within the insurgency fighting the Assad regime. Thus, al-Qaida affiliates and al-Qaida-linked groups have generally proven themselves to be valuable military partners for other factions, while not working to impose all aspects of Islamic law immediately on the populations in their zones of control and influence, but rather working to condition the locals to accept their imposition eventually. Read more ..

Israel on Edge

Islamic Governments Cede West Jerusalem to Israel

December 20th 2017

Israeli flag and clouds

Last week in Istanbul, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) recognized East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. They made the announcement with a barrage of angry rhetoric, of course. Israel is a “racist” state, and the Trump administration’s recognition earlier this month of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is "an attack on the historical, legal, natural and national rights of the Palestinian people, a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts, an impetus to extremism and terrorism, and a threat to international peace and security."

Look past the bombast at the main point. By recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, the OIC is effectively ceding West Jerusalem to the Israelis and implicitly recognizing it as Israel’s capital.

The vast majority of media organizations around the world that don’t specialize in the Middle East didn’t report this, but it’s important. The OIC includes 57 member states and extends far beyond the Middle East, from Sub-Saharan Africa through South Asia and all the way to Indonesia. Read more ..

Inside Amazon

Amazon Becomes a Major Defense Contractor

December 20th 2017

Amazon Box2

Amazon is the King Kong of online shopping sites.  It’s also a giant in federal government contracting. A few years back, Amazon got a $600 million contract to provide cloud-computing services to the CIA.  Amazon wasn’t lowest bidder. Not even close. IBM, whose bid was about 35% lower, filed a protest. A GAO investigation found irregularities and ordered CIA to re-bid the contract.

Amazon filed suit against the government.  A federal judge tossed the GAO investigation and ordered the Amazon – CIA deal to go forward. Critics worry Amazon will share the personal information of its 162 million customers with the spy agency. One can only speculate if Amazon canceling web-hosting services for WikiLeaks factored into CIA’s decision. Read more ..

Destination Israel

King David Again Voted Jerusalem Israel's Leading Hotel

December 20th 2017

King David Hotel

In the recent World Travel Awards, the King David, Jerusalem was once again voted the country’s leading hotel. This luxury property. situated in the heart of Jerusalem, regularly hosts, kings, queens, presidents and VIPs from all over the world. In addition, the superb luxury Jerusalem Suite was nominated as Israel's Leading Hotel Suite 2017. Located on the 6th floor, this magnificent corner suite offers panoramic views of Old and New Jerusalem. The bedroom has “his” and “hers” bathrooms, a separate meeting and dining room for up to 10 people, jacuzzi, bath and guest powder room.

Each year, World Travel Awards covers the globe with its Grand Tour – a series of regional gala ceremonies to recognize excellence within each continent. Its annual programme is renowned as the most prestigious and comprehensive in the global industry. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Qatar Charities Support of Extreme Islamist Ideology

December 19th 2017

Hamas Terrorists

Qatar's purposeful support of the Muslim Brotherhood, Iran, Turkey, and radical Islamist terrorist groups led Saudi Arabia,BahrainEgypt, and the UAE to cut all ties with the Emirate last June. Indeed, it was no secret that "Qatar has a long history of harboring terrorist operatives and financing various extremist groups, including Hamas, the Taliban, al Qaeda, the al-Nusra Front, and the Muslim Brotherhood."

Nonetheless, Qatar has been protesting and arguing ever since that the "blockade" violates international law and human rights. But the Anti-Terrorist Quartet (ATQ) has put Qatar on their 'terror finance watchlist' and
 banned major Qatari charities. Among the terrorist-supporting charities named, is Qatar Charity that advertises its mission is "to participate in the preservation of Islamic culture through the construction of mosques. We spread our Islamic teachings with the world, and we invite you to be part of it in this achievement." But the QC -- that nation's and one of the Arab World's largest charities -- has long been known to fund the very same extremists Islamists terror groups listed by the ATQ.

Trump and Israel

US Vetoes Security Council Resolution to Rescind Trump’s Jerusalem Recognition

December 19th 2017

Western Wall

“On Chanukah, you spoke like a Maccabi. You lit a candle of truth,” Netanyahu said, thanking Haley and Trump for vetoing an anti-Israel UN resolution. The United States vetoed a UN resolution that would have required President Donald Trump to rescind his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Egyptian-sponsored Security Council resolution was approved by the 14 other Council members. “Thank you, Ambassador Haley. On Chanukah, you spoke like a Maccabi. You lit a candle of truth. You dispel the darkness. One defeated the many. Truth defeated lies. Thank you, President Trump. Thank you, Nikki Haley,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated.

Arab nations knew in advance that the United States was certain to veto the resolution, but they sought the vote to demonstrate that countries everywhere and even many U.S. allies such as Britain, France and Japan are against Trump’s action.


The Book World

Guinness World Records Claims Publisher Trying to Copy Them

December 19th 2017

law books regulations green

Guinness World Records claims education publisher Scholastic is trying to steal its business with a “Book of World Records” that “obviously copies” Guinness’ planned publication for 2018.

Both record books feature a colorful background and a title in large, three-dimensional black and white print, while Scholastic’s also includes pictures of celebrities like The Rock.

Scholastic designed their cover after it saw a mock-up of Guinness World Records’ at a 2017 business meeting, Guinness claims in a Manhattan federal court lawsuit.

Guinness has published its tome since 1955, selling more than 138 million copies in more than 100 countries, “rendering Guinness World Records itself the holder of a world record as the owner of the bestselling copyright title of all time,” according to court papers it filed against Scholastic. Read more ..

War Against the Weak

Ohio to Outlaw Eugenic Abortion of Down Syndrome Children

December 19th 2017

Black infant

Sitting on the desk of Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) is a bill that when passed into law would ban abortions on unborn babies found with Down syndrome. The Ohio legislature voted 20-12 for the ban prohibiting abortionists from committing an abortion that is sought “in whole or in part” on the basis of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

Abortionists who refuse to comply would lose their medical license and face a fourth-degree felony, punishable by up to a $5,000 fine and 18 months in prison. However, the law does not punish women seeking abortions.

Praising the measure, Ohio Right to Life called it a step toward ending discrimination against the disabled. "Both the House and the Senate sent a loud message that we are a society built on compassion, love, equality,” said president Mike Gonidakis. “We expect Governor Kasich will sign this legislation, as he said he would in 2015. Every Ohioan deserves the right to life, no matter how many chromosomes they have.”

About 67 percent of children diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted in the United States, thus reducing overall births of children with Down syndrome 30 percent. 



Terrorists, Obama, and Democrats linked to International Hizbollah Money Laundering

December 19th 2017

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

On Monday, the Justice Department warned that Imran Awan -- a former Capitol Hill IT aide who was associated with the Democratic National Committee and congressional Democrats -- is a “flight risk” who could flee to his native Pakistan if a judge approves his request to lift “all of the conditions of his release.” This comes after revelations that during the Obama administration, the Hezbollah terrorist organization, backed by Iran, trafficked cocaine and laundered money through used cars to finance the expansion of its global threat. Awan had a used car business among his various enterprises. 

Beginning in 2008, the Drug Enforcement Administration launched Project Cassandra and amassed substantial evidence that Hezbollah had expanded from its military and political activities focused on the Middle East to a global criminal enterprise. It funneled cocaine into the U.S., collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering, and other criminal activities. Federal agents tracked cocaine shipments from Latin America to Africa, Europe and the Middle East, while others went through socialist Venezuela to Mexico and thence to the U.S. To launder the money from the cocaine sales, Hezbollah bought American used cars and shipped them to Africa.


The Edge of the Internet

Google To Use Light Beams To Bring High-Speed Internet To India

December 18th 2017

Laser burst

Google’s moonshot factory, X Development LLC, is working with AP State FiberNet, a telecom company in Andhra Pradesh, India, to roll out two thousand Free Space Optical Communications (FSOC) links as part of a collaborative effort to bring broadband to 12 million households.

Born out of the Loon project where Google aims to use high altitude balloons as base stations in the sky to enable internet access everywhere, especially in hard to reach or underdeveloped regions around the globe, FSOC links are based on light beams that deliver high speed connectivity over long distances without using fiber-optic cables.

Project Loon needed a way of transmitting data between balloon base stations to work. Engineers used FSOC links to achieve this over distances of over 100 km. The results of this work in the stratosphere brought the technology to ground to solve connectivity problems where fiber is too expensive or impractical.



Congress Demands Answers on FBI

December 15th 2017

Capitol Hill

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote a letter to the Department of Justice demanding explanations from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about a number of text messages sent between FBI investigator Peter Strzok and his FBI-Attorney and girlfriend Lisa Page in 2016. The two made numerous disparaging remarks about then-candidate Donald Trump, while both of them were central characters in the FBI’s abortive investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as Barack Obama’s secretary of state, and in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of the Trump/Russia narrative. 


The Book World

Why Is It So Goddamned Hard to Make a Living as a Writer Today?

December 15th 2017


Reprinted from the Spring/Summer 2017 issue of the Authors Guild Bulletin.Doug Preston was the keynote speaker at the inaugural New Mexico Writers Dinner at La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe on March 2nd. We reprint his remarks here with his permission and our thanks.

I have no doubt that almost all of you in this room struggle with a central question in your lives: Why is it so goddamned hard to make a living as a writer today?
A recent study by the Authors Guild showed that from 2009 to 2015, the average income of a full-time author decreased 30 percent, from $25,000 a year to $17,500 a year. For part-time authors, the average income decreased 38 percent, from $7,250 a year to $4,500. Full-time authors with more than 25 years of experience saw the greatest drop — a 67 percent decrease from $28,750 to $9,500.

The collapse of authors’ incomes is not a problem. It’s not even a crisis. It’s a catastrophe. And not just for us, but for our nation as a whole. Writing is the lifeblood of American culture, of democracy, and of freedom. It is under assault as never before in the history of the Republic.

As a nation, we’ve always been on high alert against censorship. When a book is banned from a school library, when a journalist is arrested covering a protest or sued for libel, we pay attention. These events make the newspapers.

But what about the even more serious problem — when an important book isn’t even written? Not written because the author couldn’t get a decent advance or was rejected — not because the idea was bad, but because the publisher was unable to take the financial risk. Read more ..

Israel on Edge

On Moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem

December 14th 2017

Wailing Wall 1967

When President Donald Trump announced that the United States would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Muslim world reacted with outrage and threats. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned of “dangerous consequences.” The spokesman for Turkish president Erdogan warned that the move was a “grave mistake” because “Jerusalem is our red line.” Bekir Bozdag, the Deputy Prime Minister, said the move would plunge the world “into a fire with no end in sight.” And Saudi Arabia’s King Salman warned that the move “would constitute a flagrant provocation of Muslims all over the world.”

The leaders of the Western world reacted in similar fashion. Pope Francis, British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Emmanuel Macron all criticized Trump’s announcement. Meanwhile, the patriarchs and heads of the local churches in Jerusalem sent a letter to President Trump warning that the transfer of the embassy “will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence, and suffering in Jerusalem.”

But there is an obvious contradiction here. As Jihad Watch editor Robert Spencer points out in a recent column, these leaders have a record of defending Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance, which is being perverted by only a handful of extremists. Pope Francis, for example, has said that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.” On another occasion he drew a moral equivalence between Islam and Catholicism, saying, “If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence.” For over a decade now, various Church leaders and secular leaders have assured us that violence has nothing to do with Islam.

But if that’s what they really believe, why should they worry that moving an embassy would create – to quote from the letter of the church leaders in Jerusalem – “hatred, conflict, violence, and suffering.” Read more ..

The Race to AI

Self-taught Google AI Achieves 'superhuman' Chess Proficiency in Hours

December 14th 2017

Terminator Robot

Google's (Mountain View, CA) AlphaZero artificial intelligence (AI) program has achieved within 24 hours a "superhuman level" of play in the game of chess within hours of teaching itself the game from scratch, knowing only the game rules.

The algorithm was tested against Stockfish 8 , an open source computer chess engine considered to be among the strongest available. In a paper on the research, Google's DeepMind division reported that in 100 games played against Stockfish 8, AlphaZero won or drew all of them.

The AlphaZero algorithm is a generalized version of Google's AlphaGo Zero, which itself was an evolution of AlphaGo - the first computer program to defeat a world champion at the ancient Chinese game of Go. The original AlphaGo trained on thousands of human amateur and professional games to learn how to play Go, while AlphaGo Zero was able to teach itself to play Go from scratch, starting from completely random play.


Turkey and Israel

Erdogan Invokes Islamic Text Sanctioning Killing Jews at Party Convention

December 13th 2017


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan invoked a Muslim hadith commonly used by Hamas and other terrorist supporters to sanction killing Jews during a party convention Sunday.

"[T]hose who think they own #Jerusalem better know that tomorrow they won't be able to hide behind trees," Erdogan's said, according to a translation by dissident Turkish journalist Abdullah Bozkurt. Last year, Erdogan shut down Bozkurt's former newspaper, Today's Zaman, which had Turkey's largest circulation.

"[This is] a veiled threat of killing each and every Jew with a shocking reference to apocalyptic prophecy of tree story," Bozkurt wrote. Read more ..

The Health Edge

How Malaria Tricks ther Immune System

December 9th 2017

mosquito biting

Global efforts to eradicate malaria are crucially dependent on scientists’ ability to outsmart the malaria parasite. And Plasmodium falciparum is notoriously clever: it is quick to develop resistance against medications and has such a complex life cycle that blocking it effectively with a vaccine has thus far proved elusive. In a new study reported in Nature Communications, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science, together with collaborators in Ireland and Australia, have shown that P. falciparum is even more devious than previously thought: not only does it hide from the body’s immune defenses, it employs an active strategy to deceive the immune system.

among transmittable diseases, malaria is second only to tuberculosis in number of victims, putting at risk nearly half of Earth’s population. More than 200 million people become infected every year; about half a million die, most of them children under five years of age. “Malaria is one of the world’s most devastating diseases – it’s a true bane of low-income countries, where it kills a thousand young children every day,” says Dr. Neta Regev-Rudzki of Weizmann’s Department of Biomolecular Sciences. “To fight malaria, we need to understand the basic biology of Plasmodium falciparum and figure out what makes it such a dangerous killer.” Read more ..

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